August 29, 2006

Class Report

So...I've now had three of my four classes. Allow me to post some first impressions.

The first class of the day was U.S. Foreign Policy, which apparently means "let's talk about how all the foreign policy events of the past 200 years are related to Iraq." The professor (who used to work for the State Department or something) was going through the usual poli-sci "I'll try to keep my opinions out of the lecture" speech when he shared the following:

"For the record, I am a left wing liberal."

Wait, what? A liberal teaching a college course? MY MIND IS FUCKING BLOWN.


He spent some time explaining how, in his view, "neoconservatives" are essentially people who realized that they shouldn't have supported Communism and decided that it was necessary to punish the former Soviet Union. He also felt that he needed to mention that "many of them are Jewish." I assume he said that as a way to discuss Israel (which he did shortly after), but it was still kind of weird.

The guy seems okay though. He just has problems projecting his voice, which half forces you to pay attention and half makes you want to walk up to the front and hand him a bullhorn. Also, he looks like a cross between Donald Rumsfeld and Droopy Dog, which I found hilarious for some reason. Look at this and tell me I'm wrong. Seriously.

The second class was Anthropological Theory, a.k.a. the token bullshit arts and sciences elective for the semester. Before I write about the class itself, I feel it's my duty to mention some odd moments that preceded it.

You see, one of the students in the class is a woman who appears to be between 40 and 55 years old. She's also a bit on the heavy side and has a constant froglike facial expression (if you ever saw the Keystone Light "bitter beer face"'s kinda like that). In addition, she had her bag and stuff in some sort of cartlike contraption. Basically, she looked not unlike a homeless person who had wandered in off the street, and since this class was in a building about half a block from a popular panhandling area, this actually seemed plausible.

Being bored and not knowing anyone in the class, I decided to make up a backstory in my head that explained her presence, and I ended up with some crazy theory about how the cart was full of cats and old shoes that she throws at people when they don't give her money. I actually had to fight back laughter when I looked at her after that. She eventually introduced herself and described some serious archaeological work she's done, but I think I'm going to put a crazy cat cart lady in the next Bob and Joe story.


The class started, and the professor turned out to be another stereotypical old balding dude with the most ridiculous Boston accent ever. I know a few people from Boston, and I always thought that "pahk the cah at Hahvad Yahd" crap was just a joke, but...holy crap. He actually talks like that. He even made a point of how people have trouble understanding him in New York or something.

Anyway, he managed to force us into the usual dumbass "get to know each other by interviewing the person next to you and introducing them to the class" thing, but he justified it by telling us to conduct an "anthropological interview." That really helps those of us who are COMMUNICATIONS MAJORS, MORON!

Luckily, the dude I talked to turned out to be a newspaper major who is also taking the class as a bullshit elective, and (refer back to my "requesting social advice" post) we managed to have a decent conversation without me saying anything awkward and/or fucktarded. Apparently, I'd have lots of friends if I was forced to interview them upon meeting them. Maybe I should start carrying around a notepad when I'm in social situations.

Anyway, this class angers me, because there's a bunch of required reading that we have to go to the library to access (I think), and he scheduled a couple "required" university lectures that conflict with marching band rehearsal. The class that I'm placing the least importance on in the grand scheme of...this semester...shouldn't involve that amount of out of class crap. But I'll survive.

The last class of the day (after a nice four hour break) was Communications Law. The professor just came right out and told us that she realizes nobody looks forward to taking the class (it's a requirement) and that it's rumored to be very hard, which is why they save it for the senior year. At the same time, however, she seems rather condescending and does that little pitch raising thing at the end of sentences. She also puts all necessary handouts on top of the projector at the beginning of class and calls it "the buffet." Ooooookay.

This class is going to be painful, I think, because she said she runs it like a business. She's a former lawyer who knows a bunch of crap about the corporate world, and she tries to create that kind of environment to prepare us for the future. Apparently, we'll be learning how to negotiate and work toward the goals of our group at all times, and we have to write "memos" instead of papers.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may have figured out that I fucking despise the whole "business" thing. I am an artist, not a drone. I would blow my brains out before working in a cube farm or something, and the whole concept of memos and meetings and such makes me want to vomit out my digestive tract in some futile, last-ditch attempt to avoid being condemned to the hell of the 9-to-5 world. Just reading Dilbert or watching Office Space kind of makes me want to curl up and die.

Needless to say, I'm not thrilled about her ideas, but I assume that the "law" part of the class is rather essential for the future. Still...fuck business. Fuck it in the ass. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I create the product. Let the mindless lackeys negotiate for distribution. I just want credit for my damn ideas.

No offense to people who actually work in business, of course. I just...can't grasp the concept of living such a linear life. More power to you if that's your thing, but it ain't mine.

I think I have some syllabi to review now.

Posted by CD at 10:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 28, 2006

Checking In

Nothing like sleeping until 2:30 PM on a Monday. My schedule for this semester rocks.

Anyway, I was going to write the Band Camp Chronicles over the weekend, but I realized that I couldn't remember enough specific stuff from each day to make it interesting. Let's just move on.

I have band rehearsal tonight, and then tomorrow morning, I have that...thing you go learn stuff...uh...oh, right: Class. I have class tomorrow. So hopefully I'll have some interesting/eccentric professors to blog about. Now that I'm actually going to be awake during the time when things are happening again, I might also write some political stuff. We'll see what happens.

I have to eat dinner now. Later, minions.

Posted by CD at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 25, 2006

Hooray for Free Money

Because band camp people get here before our official meal plans kick in, the band gives us cards that work the same way as the SU "SUpercard," which means they also work in the vending machines. We have to return the cards tomorrow, and I had about eight dollars left on mine, so I raided the machine in the lobby of my dorm. Check this out (click for full size):

Pretty sweet, isn't it? Didn't cost me a friggin' thing.

I also had my eye on a pack of Lifesavers, but I was 3 cents short. I realize I could've just paid for it, but that would've made it feel less awesome to get so much stuff for free.

Anyway, I have to perform at fucking convocation tomorrow morning (or later this morning, I guess...why am I still up?), but after that, I don't have anywhere to be until Monday night, so prepare for the Band Camp Chronicles to be posted in installments throughout the next few days. More on that when I write it.

I should probably be going to sleep now. Fucking opening weekend bullshit.

Posted by CD at 01:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 23, 2006

Band Camp Update

Since band camp is the only thing happening in my life right now, it's what I'm going to write about. Deal with it.

Anyway, you can all bow down to me (I need to stop using that phrase so much), for I am the 2006 SU Drumline drilldown champion.

For those not in the know, a drilldown is when an entire marching band (or in this case, a single section) gets into a block and marches to commands given by section leaders, etc. If you fail to follow a command properly (for example, making a full turn to the left instead of a half turn), you're out, and the last person standing wins. It's basically the marching band version of "Simon says."

Reread the second paragraph of the post and you'll pretty much get the message. I didn't actually win a prize or anything, but it's kinda cool knowing that I'm technically the best marcher in a group of about 30 people.

On the less pleasant side of things, take a look at this picture of my left hand (click for full size):

That red thingy on my middle finger happened during a visual where we bring our sticks up and bash ride cymbals behind our heads. I miscalculated, whacked my finger on the edge of the cymbal, and made that...thing. I think it's a blood clot. Pleasant, ain't it? I also have a massive blister on one of my toes, but I'm not disturbed enough to post a picture of that.

As long as I'm on the topic of band camp related injuries, does anyone know a good way to alleviate intense, spastic, stabbing back pain? I could really use it right about now.

Only one day of band camp to go...

Posted by CD at 10:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

Coming Attractions

You know you're at band camp when you take three Advils and your back STILL FUCKING HURTS LIKE HELL!!! Two and a half more days...

Anyway, I was planning on doing a daily "band camp journal" or something so I could share this experience with others, but, camp is from 9 AM to 9:30 PM. That doesn't give me a whole lot of time.

Fortunately, I don't have any classes until next Tuesday, so I think that at some point this weekend, I'll throw together some day-by-day posts detailing what I can remember. You may not be interested, but I'll probably have some decent stories to tell.

I'm going to go pass out from pain/dehydration/exhaustion now.


Posted by CD at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2006

Hooray for Marching Ba-...Ow! My Fucking Back!

What's up, SIT readers? I'm posting this from my dorm room at Syracuse, since the residential network decided to actually work this year. The summer hiatus was nice, but I think that it's about time to start blogging regularly again. If any of you are still reading, stick around.

Anyway, band camp started today, and the next seven days of my life will revolve around playing snare drum. That and pain. Lots and lots and lots of pain (sunburn, back strain, shin splints, blisters, etc.). How do I keep convincing myself that I enjoy this?

The SU drumline is going to be frickin' amazing this year. Seriously. Nine snare drums, six bass drums, four tenors, and thirteen cymbals. And the freshman are really good. They actually memorized the music over the summer and can play it well. This is a good sign. I honestly think the snare line is going to be the best one yet. You probably don't care, but I'm psyched.

That's about it for now. Maybe later I'll post a picture of the view out my window. I'm in the same building as last year, but there's a bit of a difference since it's a lower floor. We'll see.

Posted by CD at 09:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pointless Post

I'm posting this from the Knights Inn in Syracuse. I have no reason for doing so other than I've never blogged from a hotel before.

Uh...that's all, I guess.

Posted by CD at 12:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2006

Requesting Social Advice

Okay, this post is going to ramble a bit, but I genuinely could use some help if anyone has ideas.

Anyway, I'm heading back up to Syracuse on Thursday afternoon. Band camp starts on Friday, and classes start in a couple weeks. This is going to be my senior year, and it occurred to me recently that I've really been wasting a large part of the whole college experience. This can probably be at least partially attributed to my horrible social skills. Let me explain.

I've mentioned my social retardation several times on SIT. I realize that I'm a better than average writer (not bragging, just telling the frickin' truth), so I should be able to interact fairly well in any setting involving words, but when it comes to face-to-face communication...holy crap. There's no limit to the ways I manage to screw up.

As I've also mentioned, some of this social blundering is probably due to my ADD (since random lapses in attention = missing some of the subtle nuances of communication), although some days I might as well be frickin' autistic for how poorly I handle things. However, that's really no excuse for not at least trying to improve, and I have made a lot of progress. I've even read a couple books on people skills (this and this), although I usually forget to actually apply this stuff when I have the chance.

All that aside, a major problem I can't seem to really solve is the fact that I have trouble connecting with people. I have had friends and everything, but a lot of that seems really random, since I don't recall acting differently around them. The issue I'm concerned with is that I seem to drive people away and/or make them uncomfortable, and several times, I've experienced a bizarre phenomenon where I'm on good terms with someone, but they start ignoring me or trying to avoid me after a certain period of time.

Example: I wrote a few posts about my roommate sophomore year and how we got along fairly well because we could have political discussions, etc. However, we actually didn't say a word to each other during the last three weeks before the end of the spring semester, and things generally got really awkward after a while, despite the fact that I didn't recall pissing him off on any specific occasion. It just sort of happened.

Example 2: The girl who lived in the room next to me last year was also in marching band, and we were on decent acquaintance terms (saying hi in the hall, occasional conversations, etc.) for a while. However, I passed her one day and gave the usual "hey" or "what's up" or whatever I was saying that day, and she kind of looked at me funny and gave a half-hearted reply, then didn't talk to me again for the rest of the semester. Fucking bizarre.

Now, I realize that crap like this could just be due to the things I'm aware of doing, but usually forget to control when the pressure is on. Just to help out, here's a list of various stuff I tend to do in social situations that probably makes people want to avoid me (incidentally, I know at least one occasional blog reader has met me in real life and can verify most of these):

- Cutting people off in mid-sentence
- Impulsively arguing with any criticism even if I kind of agree with it
- Nervous gestures such as looking at the ground, rubbing my face for no apparent reason, blinking rapidly, etc.
- Watering down positive comments by adding negative stuff (something like "Yeah, there were a few problems with that, but we can fix those" rather than "That was pretty good").
- Generally making negative comments about everything
- Talking really, really fast in a monotone voice that always makes me sound vaguely pissed off, even when I'm in a good mood (I've lost track of the number of times people have reprimanded me for giving them "attitude" when trying to ask questions politely)
- Thinking out loud in the same voice
- Responding defensively to any comment concerning me, even positive ones
- Inserting random bits of information about myself into a conversation when nobody asked for anything even remotely resembling that
- Probably more stuff I can't remember at the moment

Now, you're probably reading this and thinking "Well, there's your answer, dumbass. Just stop doing all that crap." And again, I'm aware that I do most of these things, but I usually don't realize it until after I've done them. However, I keep getting a strange feeling that there's something else going on, because even when I do make an honest effort to stop being so ridiculously awkward, I still have the magical ability to drive people away.

There's a certain facial expression that people make when I do something socially offensive that I'm not aware of. Apparently, the entire human race knows this expression and the proper time to use it, because I've seen it dozens of times. Here's a crappy drawing to illustrate it (I tried to do it myself and take a picture, but I couldn't get it right):


Again, that's not a great drawing, but I've seen something similar to that many times: The person kind of smiles in an attempt to play along with whatever it is they think you're doing, but at the same time, they usually lean backward a bit and have half their mouth hanging open in a "what the fuck did you just say and/or do?" manner.

Like I said, most of the times I've gotten that, I actually had no idea what I was doing wrong. Can anyone shed some light on this?

Anyway, getting back to the connection thing, one of my big problem areas is small talk. I can't really carry on a conversation, so when I try to talk to someone I've just met or don't know very well, it usually leads to awkward silences (I can recall at last two times when someone tried to sit at a table with me in the dining hall and we both ran out of things to say within a minute, leading to a very uncomfortable eating experience).

This is where I could use some specific answers to questions I've had for a while:

- What kind of stuff can you talk about with someone you've never met once you're past the basic "where are you from, what's your major, etc." crap?

- What's a good non-awkward way to break an awkward silence?

- Is there some specific gesture or voice inflection that most people use when they're about to finish talking and want you to reply? This has baffled me all my life and is the source of most of my interruptions, since I have no fucking idea when the other person is going to stop talking, and if I wait for a pause, it usually turns out that they were just gathering steam for something else, and I end up cutting them off.

- Is it a good idea to try and reciprocate in conversation as much as possible? For example, if someone asks how your classes are going, are you expected to answer and then add a "how about you?" or something, or is that considered rude since they didn't bring it up? Sorry I can't think of a better example, but you get the idea.

Any other conversational advice would be appreciated.

I really would like to fix this connection problem I have. I'm still baffled by the fact that every year, I watch people who have never met each other become friends within ten minutes and stay that way. Seriously. It freaks me out to see people acting like they've known each other all their lives, then find out that they just met an hour ago. How the everloving crap shit do they do that? It usually takes me weeks to reach that level with anyone.

I remember thinking that my roommate freshman year had a lot of friends from back home, since he seemed to be on such good terms with everyone within the first day of arriving. In reality, he didn't know most of them until that day. How? The? HELL? Like I said, I have gotten to that point with people before, and I do actually have what you could call friends, but it usually takes a lot longer than a couple hours.

Also, as long as I'm on the subject of first impressions, what's a good way to remember names when you're meeting a lot of people at once? Most of the suggestions I've seen involve writing them down, but that isn't exactly possible all the time. I hate having someone address me by name and having no idea who they are.

A minor point I should make: I think some of my problems may stem from the fact that, until I got to college, I put up with a lot of stupid bullshit from a lot of people who really didn't like me and were out to make my life miserable. Yay, public school. As a result, when people are actually nice to me, I get this weird paranoid feeling that they're either trying to get on my good side so they can fuck me over later, or that they're being condescending because they pity me or something. I might be unconsciously repelling people because of this. Interestingly enough, I've met exactly two people in college who treated me the way I expected to be treated by everyone thanks to my past experiences, and I haven't seen either of them in a while, so this crap is completely irrational, but it's probably a factor anyway. Just something else to think about.

Anyway, I think I've gotten my point across. If anyone can help even with a section of this massive post, I'll be eternally grateful. Thanks.

Posted by CD at 02:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 09, 2006

Name That iTune IV

Since people are apparently still reading the site, here's another edition of NTi. Same rules as before: I randomly select ten songs from my playlist and post the first four lines, and you try and name the band and song title. Answers from last time are in the extended entry. Let's get started:

What we learned here is love tastes bitter when it's gone
Past yourself forget the light, things look dirty when it's on
Funny how it comes to pass, that all the good slips away
And there's no one around you can remember being good to you

I don't give a fuck about all of your problems
I could give a rat's ass how you're feeling today
Take your worldly advice and shove it straight up your ass
Thanks for coming around to fuck up my day

Walk that crooked line I see you try to be
The one standing in the middle of the circle
Try and try you ask me to answer
All the time I give you a reason

I feel boxed in
And trapped inside
Feels like the world's closing in
And there's nowhere to hide

How can you exist, it doesn't seem it should be possible
Your thoughts are all so twisted and there's nothing there that's logical
You shout out all your slogans, try to force them on the populace
You can't go it alone and you'd prefer to be anonymous

Cold, lying in my bed
Staring into darkness
Lost, I hear footsteps overhead
And my thoughts return again

We are scanning the scene in the city tonight
We are looking for you to start up a fight
There is an evil feeling in our brains
But it is nothing new, you know it drives us insane

Haven't seen me lately
Stayin' hard to find
Well I know it ain't easy
But you know I don't mind

The mind is all, we kiss everything
We say we love, it's the skin we're in
You're a retrograde, a vacancy
You're the one I love, the hate in me

Come lie next to me, Jesus Christ
Holes in hand where a cross used to fit just right
The meeting called, the topic a lady's fate
You don't have to remind me, I won't be late

Answers to last edition:

1. "Wasting My Time" by Default

2. "Run Away" by Staind

3. "Figure 8" by TRUSTcompany

4. "Swim" by Bush

5. "Already Gone" by Puddle of Mudd

6. "Sister" by Creed

7. "Best of You" by Foo Fighters

8. "So I Need You" by 3 Doors Down

9. "Away" by Breaking Benjamin

10. "Crawling In the Dark" by Hoobastank

Posted by CD at 05:13 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 08, 2006

Guitar Recordings of the Day

You may be wondering what I've been doing while not blogging these past few weeks. The answer, of course, is "pretty much nothing," but I have spent a decent amount of time practicing guitar. I wouldn't say I'm good yet, but I suck a lot less than I did at the beginning of the summer.

For example, I posted short samples of two songs I've been working on at SoundClick (my file manager is still screwed up).

"Untitled Song" is untitled mostly because it was assembled from bits and pieces of things I've come up with and only became a song a few hours ago. All I have is an intro and main riff, but it's sounding pretty awesome. The clean intro is just a random picking pattern that sounded good, and the extremely sweet lead guitar is a pentatonic pattern inspired by said clean guitar. Fun fact: I wrote the rhythm guitar for the main riff by recording the clean and lead, then jamming on some power chords until I found something that sounded good. I think the result works well. The whole thing sounds kind of like "Times Like These" by Foo Fighters, and it's probably the catchiest thing I've written.

Wow, that rambled. Anyway...

"Space Coyote" is a series of stuff I wrote a couple months ago and have been messing around with all summer. The title comes from the episode of The Simpsons in which Homer eats Guatemalan insanity peppers and meets his spirit guide, a talking coyote. It has nothing to do with the song, but I thought it sounded cool. There's not much more to say; Just check it out.

Also, the rhytm guitar tone in both songs is a new sound I created with the help of the Metal Shop model pack for the PODxt. It's supposed to sound like a ridiculously overdriven Marshall JCM-2000. I'm still working on it, but it's quickly becoming one of my favorite presets.

Meanwhile, in the "files that are small enough to upload the easy way" department, I recorded a quick cover of the intro and chorus from "Figure 8" by TRUSTcompany the other day, and it sounded so good that I had to share it, so check it out:

Figure 8

It's all about the Dual Rectifier. Line 6 is friggin' amazing.

Anyway, feel free to listen to and/or critique this stuff. I'm interested in feedback from fellow guitarists (Ryan and Spork, I'm looking in your direction), but anyone willing to spend five minutes (that's how long it will take you to listen to all three) on this can comment.


Posted by CD at 06:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 02, 2006

I Am A Genius

Those of you who have read the Bob and Joe scripts and/or checked out my Facebook profile are probably aware of a hypothetical device I invented called the spone. It's a combination of a spoon and a phone, and it would, in theory, make life easier.

Long story short, a few hours ago, I decided to see if it was really possible, and this was the result:


You know you want one. Bow down to the Sponemaster.


...Holy CRAP, I need to go back to school now.

Posted by CD at 12:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack